Mid-afternoon the sound of weeping in the hall
woke me . . . hurried steps on the stair, and a door
slamming. I put on my glasses and stared
at nothing in particular.

We had walked all morning in the Forum
among pillars, cornices, and tilting
marble floors . . . armless torsos, faces
missing their noses—all fallen awry
among the grassy knolls.

Lord Byron brooded there on his love
for Teresa Guiccioli, only nineteen,
and someone else’s wife. Oh, Siren Italy.

Just then the faucet gasped.
The ceiling seemed incalculably far away.
My mind revoked at all I had bought
in the chic little alleyways of Rome.

I longed for home, and the high collars we wear
a hundred miles north of the place
where Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter.

I even longed to be bored again,
watching the pale sun rush—all business—
over the edge of the western world
by four on a November afternoon.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 4 Number 2, on page 52
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